Sunday, January 25, 2009

Taliban Consolidate Barbaric Hold on Swat

The New York Times reports that the Taliban continue consolidating their barbaric hold on Swat province in Pakistan. The Pakistani government in Islamabad is pretty well powerless to stop the Taliban in the frontier provinces which the central government has considered autonomous for decades. That has enabled the Taliban to operate freely and assist al Qaeda in their quest for jihad.

Swat isn't part of those frontier provinces, but is part of Pakistan proper, which makes the Taliban's bold efforts all the more troubling. The Pakistani government is showing itself to be incapable of controlling its own territory.
Using a portable radio transmitter, a local Taliban leader, Shah Doran, on most nights outlines newly proscribed “un-Islamic” activities in Swat, like selling DVDs, watching cable television, singing and dancing, criticizing the Taliban, shaving beards and allowing girls to attend school. He also reveals names of people the Taliban have recently killed for violating their decrees — and those they plan to kill.

“They control everything through the radio,” said one Swat resident, who declined to give his name for fear the Taliban might kill him. “Everyone waits for the broadcast.”

International attention remains fixed on the Taliban’s hold on Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal areas, from where they launch attacks on American forces in Afghanistan. But for Pakistan, the loss of the Swat Valley could prove just as devastating.

Unlike the fringe tribal areas, Swat, a Delaware-size chunk of territory with 1.3 million residents and a rich cultural history, is part of Pakistan proper, within reach of Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the capital.

After more than a year of fighting, virtually all of it is now under Taliban control, marking the militants’ farthest advance eastward into Pakistan’s so-called settled areas, residents and government officials from the region say.
To consolidate their hold, the Taliban routinely broadcast their latest depravities, including executing those who violate their religious dictates. There are public beatings to intimidate and cow the local populace into submission.

The local police are worried about being targeted for execution by the Taliban and routinely renounce their commissions so as to avoid Taliban wrath.

This is a recipe for absolute disaster in Pakistan, and the Zardari government isn't exactly showing itself to be any more capable of dealing with the Islamist threat than the Musharraf government.

Show moves, including taking over a charity linked to the deadly Mumbai attacks, are designed to take pressure off the government from acting in any concrete and permanent manner to disarm the Islamists.

The Islamic terrorists in Pakistan appear to have free run of the place, enabling them to continue targeting India. Yet another attack was thwarted today in Noida, India (just outside New Delhi) as police engaged in a gunfight with two terrorists, one of whom admitted they were Pakistanis plotting to attack celebrations in Delhi.
On way to the hospital, one of them identified himself as Farooq of Akara in Pakistan and his aide as Abu Ismail of Rawalkot in Pakistan. However by the time the two could reach the hospital, they succumbed. The doctors at the hospital pronounced them "dead upon arrival".

Two AK-47s, 4 magazines, 120 bullets, 5 hand grenades, Rs 18,000 cash, 3 detonators, 1.5kg of RDX and a rucksack were recovered from the car, police said. The materials seized from the car point out that the terrorists were trained in making plastic explosives and had planned to trigger three blasts, added the police.

The police are trying to find out the local contacts of the terrorists, Brij Lal added. The car's engine and chassis number had been erased, he said.

No comments: